Moths of the Amazon and Andes
Ornate Footman
Utetheisa ornatrix  LINNAEUS, 1758
Superfamily - NOCTUOIDEA
subfamily - ARCTIINAE
Tribe -
Utetheisa ornatrix, Manu cloudforest, 1700m, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
There are about 6000 known species of Arctiinae in the neotropical region. Most are noxious to birds and have aposematic or diematic warning coloration.
The genus Utetheisa contains 37 known species, with representatives in the Holarctic, Neotropical, Afrotropical, Oriental and Australian regions. The most widespread species is pulchella which occurs in Australia and across much of Asia, Africa and Europe. There are 3 species found in the neotropics i.e. perryi and galapagensis both of which are endemic to the Galapagos islands, and ornatrix which is found in Florida, Texas and south to Bolivia and Argentina.
This species is found in a wide range of habitats at elevations between sea level and about 2500m.
The caterpillars feed on Crotalaria, from which they sequester pyrrolizidine alkaloids, a group of toxins that, amongst other purposes, make them unpalatable to birds. These PAs are stored within the bodies of the caterpillar, pupa and resulting adult moth, all of which inherit the toxicity and are thus protected from predators. They are also passed to the eggs, providing them with protection against a variety of predators such as ants, and from egg parasitoids.
Adult behaviour

This common species flies mainly at night, but is often found at rest on flowers or dead seed heads in daytime.


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